Fostering Economic Development

Our Work 

GWDC realizes that the entrepreneurial spirit is often stifled by a simple lack of opportunity. Yet we believe that our region holds remarkable talents to make economic growth a reality, particularly for our most marginalized communities in Lake County.

Why Waukegan? 

Despite existing within the wealthiest county in Illinois, our lakefront communities of Waukegan and North Chicago are the only communities that have experienced chronic disinvestment in the past couple decades. In the 1990’s, major industries were shuttered or moved overseas. The result was an evaporation of public life. Now a community comprised predominantly of Latino descendant (55%) and Black (16%) residents, nearly 1 in 5 community members live in poverty. With a staggering unemployment rate, it is evident that there is a need to bridge this economic gap.

De-industrialization, coupled with internalized negative perceptions of our target area due to crime, poor school conditions, and poverty rates, has resulted in an economic context in which existing downtown and lakefront assets under perform. Unlike our neighbors, 20% of Waukegan residents and 23% of North Chicago residents live below the poverty line. The median household income in each community is $46,802 and $42,145, respectively, only slightly more than half the median household income in Lake County ($83,152). Waukegan and North Chicago residents trail significantly behind the $60,960 median income of the state and the $59,039 national average, according to 2016 estimates. To equip small businesses and entrepreneurs with the skills necessary to compete in an innovative 21st century marketplace, we push ourselves and our partners to bring investments to our own backyard. 

Northern Illinois and Southeastern Wisconsin are ripe for new restaurants for eager consumers to discover, exciting lakefront experiences families can partake in, and contracting opportunities for a range of skilled workers. The impending opening of a Foxconn manufacturing facility just 20 miles from GWDC will no doubt spur additional opportunities for businesses to scale to meet new opportunities and partnerships.

However, while small businesses may seek these new opportunities, they may lack the training, capital, certifications or line of credit necessary to expand their operations. GWDC thus is uniquely positioned to assist and advise small businesses with the help of our partners.

Our Vision

The downtown core and lakefront areas will become the destination in Lake County for waterfront recreation and entertainment serving as a magnet to attract business and fuel revitalization.

Our Strategy is Simple.

We look to bend traffic to the region through available tools and programs, which support economic development.

Programs >

Our Goals


Attract people to the downtown core and lakefront areas by offering engaging programming, complimenting natural amenities and current events scheduled to enhance experiences and attract a broader audience.


Support the growth of business to create economic opportunities, jobs, and a culture of entrepreneurship.


Invite people to the downtown and lakefront areas by offering engaging programming to compliment advantages of natural amenities and current events

Top Greater Waukegan Development Coalition
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